Fanny runs away from the King - The Burney Society go to Kew

Having just gone to Kew gardens for the annual Burney Society meet up I can't help but put up a post in celebration of this great journal and novel writer.  What I love about Fanny’s writing is the immediacy with which she recounts events, the below excerpt is a good example of where the whole scene comes to life as the drama unfolds. The other aspect I love about her retelling is the way in which personalities, in this instance the royal family are revealed, the King a likeable, vulnerable, well meaning chap and the Queen a concerned and loving wife.

Kew Palace
2nd February 1789 and the King has been gravely ill with porphyria, which no one understood at the time and it was considered that he had gone mad. Fanny Burney employed as part of the Royal Household in the capacity of Second Keeper of the Robes for the Queen kept a journal of events during this period. It is largely due to these private journals, written for private consumption by her sister and friends that we have a record of events of this period, famously dramatised in the Madness of King George.

What an adventure I had this morning, one that has occasioned me the severest personal terror I ever experienced in my life.

This morning, when I received my intelligence of the King from Dr. John Willis, I begged to know where I might walk in safety. ‘In Kew Gardens,' he said, 'as the King would be in Richmond.' Taking, therefore, the time I had most at command, I strolled into the Gardens.

I had proceeded in my quick way nearly half the round, when I suddenly perceived, through some trees, two or three figures. Relying on the instructions of Dr. John, I concluded them to be workmen and gardeners; yet tried to look sharp, and in so doing, as they were less shaded, I thought I saw the person of his Majesty. Alarmed past all possible expression, I waited not to know more, but turning back, ran off with all my might. But what was my terror to hear myself pursued, to hear the voice of the King himself loudly and hoarsely calling after me, Miss Burney! Miss Burney! '

I protest I was ready to die. I knew not in what state he might be at the time . . . and that the very action of my running away might deeply offend him. Nevertheless, on I ran, too terrified to stop, and in search of some short passage, for the garden is full of little labyrinths, by which I might escape.

The steps still pursued me, and still the poor hoarse voice rang in my ears as more and more footsteps resounded frightfully behind me with the attendants all running to catch their eager master, and the voices of the two Dr. Willises loudly exhorting him not to heat himself so unmercifully.

Heavens, how I ran . . . My feet were not sensible that they even touched the ground. Soon after I heard other voices, shriller, though less nervous, call out ' Stop ! stop ! stop ! '

I could by no means consent. ... I knew not to what I might be exposed. . . . Still, therefore, on I flew. . . . ' Doctor Willis begs you to stop ! '

I cannot, I cannot ! ' I answered, still flying on, when he called out, 'You must, ma'am; it hurts the King to run.' Then, indeed, I stopped in a state of fear really amounting to agony. I turned round; I saw the two doctors had got the King between them, and three attendants of Dr. Willis's were hovering about. They all slackened their pace as they saw me stand still. ... As they approached some little presence of mind happily came to my command; it occurred to me that to appease the wrath of my flight, I must now show some confidence. I therefore faced them as undauntedly as I was able, only charging the nearest of the attendants to stand by my side.

When they were within a few yards of me the King called out, 'Why did you run away?'

Shocked at a question impossible to answer, yet a little assured by the mild tone of his voice, I instantly forced myself forward to meet him, though . . . this step . . . was so violently combated by the tremor of my nerves, that I fairly think I may reckon it the greatest effort of personal courage I have ever made.

The effort answered; I looked up, and met all his wonted benignity of countenance, though something still of wildness in his eyes. Think, however, of my surprise to feel him put both his hands round my two shoulders and then kiss my cheek!

I wonder I did not really sink, so exquisite was my affright when I saw him spread out his arms! Involuntarily I concluded he meant to crush me; but the Willises, who have never seen him till this fatal illness, not knowing how very extraordinary an action as this was from him, simply smiled and looked pleased, supposing, perhaps, it was his customary salutation.

He now spoke in such terms of his pleasure in seeing me, that I soon lost the whole of my terror. Astonishment to find him so nearly well, and gratification to see him so pleased, removed every uneasy feeling, and the joy that succeeded in my conviction of his recovery made me ready to throw myself at his feet to express it.

What a conversation followed! When he saw me fearless, he grew more and more alive, and made me walk close by his side, away from the attendant, and even the Willises themselves, who, to indulge him, retreated. I own myself not completely composed, but alarm I could entertain no more.

Everything that came uppermost in his mind he mentioned; he seemed to have just such remains of his Mightiness as heated his imagination without deranging his reason, and robbed him of all control over his speech, though nearly in his perfect state of mind as to his opinions.

What did he not say! He opened his whole heart to me, expounded all his sentiments, and acquainted me with all his intentions.

He assured me he was quite well as well as he had ever been in his life; and then inquired how I did, and how I went on and whether I was more comfortable.

If these questions, in their implication, surprised me, imagine how that surprise must increase when he proceeded to explain them! He asked after the coadjutrix, (Fanny’s Line Manager, who bullied Fanny) laughing and saying, 'Never mind her, don't be oppressed I am your friend, don't let her cast you down, I know you have a hard time of it, but don't mind her'

Almost thunderstruck with astonishment, I merely curtsied to his kind 'I am your friend,' and said nothing.

Then presently he added, 'Stick to your father stick to your own family let them be your objects.' Again he repeated all I have just written, nearly in the same words, but ended it more seriously; he suddenly stopped, and held me to stop too, and putting his hand on his breast, in the most solemn manner he gravely and slowly said, I will protect you, I promise you that and therefore depend upon me'

He talked to me a great deal of my dear father (a celebrity at the time), and made a thousand inquiries concerning his History of Music. This brought him to his favourite theme, Handel; and he told innumerable anecdotes of him. . . . Then he ran over most of his oratorios, attempting to sing the subjects of the several airs and choruses, but so dreadfully hoarse that the sound was terrible.

Several times during the discourse, which continued much longer, Dr. Willis interposed to induce the King to cease from this unusual exertion, and to allow Miss Burney to go home; but the King always exclaimed eagerly, " No! no! no! not yet; I have something I must just mention first." At last, however, it became necessary to put an end to the conversation.

Finding we must now part, he stopped to take his leave, and renewed again his charges about the coadjutrix. . . . Then he saluted me again just as at the meeting, and suffered me to go on."

I went very soon after to the Queen to whom I was most eager to avow the meeting (the Queen and Princesses had been kept apart from the King during his madness). Her astonishment and her earnestness to hear every particular were very great. I told her almost all. Some few things relating to the distressing questions I could not repeat; nor many things said of Mrs Schwellenberg (the coadjutrix) which would much and very needlessly have hurt her.

Queen Charlotte's cottage
Princess Elizabeth's interior design

The print room

Paean to Love


A Guide to picking up a picnic lunch in Brighton

Saturday morning in mid-June with the annual Queen's Park Picnic in the Park 26th June almost upon us I am resolutely ignoring the wind rattling unseasonably round my seaside square.  Although the air is damp and there's a spattering of rain on my windows I start to consider picnic options with unbounding enthusiasm and an unerring faith that the weather will improve.  So here is my Brighton Guide to Packing up a Picnic.

Queen's Park, Brighton


Jubilee Street, Brighton, BN1 1GE

 Tel: 01273 690493

From £45 Carluccio’s picnic boxes have a classic and vegetarian option for two containing a smorgasbord of Italian nibbles with antipasti, main, focaccia, biscotti and a dessert of raspberry meringue with a passion fruit cream and summer fruits. Wrapped up in the instantly recognisable Mediterranean colours of the Carluccio brand it’s an Italian taste sensation. To complement their picnic they also suggest picnic wines including a Prosecco Brut Valdobbiadene for £14.75.


The Depot, 100 North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YE

Tel: 01273 692 894

Offering a bespoke service and presented in a recycled box, Bill’s offer a seasonal hamper from £25 and will pack up whatever you want from the store or make a selection for you. As Bill’s is without rival for the most colourful food shop around you’re likely to have options like their purple sprouting broccoli-hazelnut-stilton-cherry tomato-thyme and red Leicester quiche; and desserts so delectable they make you stare at them, piled high with fruit and flowers. You gotta love it.


Arundel Road, Brighton, BN2 5TB

For a continental feast without forking out loads of dosh head to the supermarket and pick up all you need for under £15. With parma ham at £1.99, galia melon at 49p and prosecco at £5.99, you can enjoy your cold meats and cheeses with the rest of the deli pack at half the price.  Super-size your picnic with some current deals with a picnic blanket for £9.99 and a disposable barbecue for £1.99.


Food and Wine in an English Summer Garden

Glynde, near Lewes,
East Sussex
Tel: 01273 858224
Saturday 16th July – Sunday 17th July 2011
Doors open 10am – 5pm Saturday and Sunday

Over the last few years I've been introduced to some delicious English wine.  The first time I tried English 'champagne', courtesy of Puttock PR, the night was such a success we ended up at Buddies the all-night caf on the seafront at Brighton with some Publishers picked up at a Cuban dance-hall.  Good times, and I blame the English 'champagne' that began the night.  Couldn't tell you where the 'champagne' came from though.
The second time, I was a bit more on the ball, or less drunk and took a note of the wine that rocked my world, this time at Food For Friends in the Lanes.  The white wine was from the Bodiam estate and I loved it so much I persuaded one of my bessie's to travel into Kent with me on an excursion to the vineyard to buy more of the same.
So, with great expectations, I am really looking forward to this very English event, The Glynde Food and Wine Festival, held in the historic grounds of Glynde Place, over the weekend of 16th and 17th July 2011.
The Festival celebrates the best food and English wine produced in Sussex and the surrounding region. Set in the beautiful grounds of Glynde Place, a 16th century country house, it will be the biggest English wine gathering in the country and offers visitors a chance to be introduced to a range of award-winning wines.
The Festival founder Lord Hampden also believes the event will provide a platform for championing and showcasing the amazing array of regional food producers as well as the vineyards across the country, with a selection of locally made chocolate, chilli, cheese, chutney, charcuterie and cakes. Yum.

This year’s line-up - features a Chef Demo Stage with presenter and restaurateur John Torode, Edd Kimber (winner of Great British Bake Off), Dhruv Baker (Waitrose LIVE columnist), Peter Bayless, Valentine Warner, Olly Rowe and Celebrity MasterChef winner Lisa Faulkner, where there will be cooking demonstrations from the pros.

MasterChef winner Peter Bayless will be running cookery master classes in the old tea room - choose from pasta making in the morning at 10.30am and bread making in the afternoon at 2.30pm to take you to a new level of expertise, pre-booking online recommended.

There will also be wine tasting with a 45 minute tutored tasting in the house’s Marble Hall with Stephen Skelton MW and wine writer and broadcaster Joe Wadsack at 11.30am, 12.30pm and 3pm.

Children under 12 years will be admitted free and entertained by cookery author Amanda Grant who will be running her renowned children's cookery marquee called Cook School, the title of her latest children's cookery book. Amanda will be joined by local producers - including Imbhams Farm Granary and Garden Quails - together they will teach children where food comes from and how to cook.

For fast food options the Food Terrace, will be offering up hot dishes like hog roast and homemade crepes, there will be local beers and spirits available at the fully-licensed festival bar while the 'champagne' will be served at the sparkling wine and berries bar all accompanied by live music.

The Old Dairy on Glynde Estate is currently home to local producers that include Say Cheese, Flint Owl Bakery and Taste of Dreams (Cakes).

Adults £8.50 or £7 online
OAPs - £7.50 or £6 online
Students - £6 or £5 online
Children under 12 are free
Cookery Master Classes - £25 – pre-booked tickets only
Tutored Wine Tasting - £7
Children’s Kitchen - £5
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